Stay Cool and Healthy This Summer: Tips for Beating the Heat – Part Two: Managing Heat Stress and Embracing Summer’s Bounty

by | May 13, 2024 | Health Tips

Welcome back to Part Two of our Summer blog series.  In our first post, “Staying Hydrated and Protected in the Summer Heat”, we discussed key strategies for staying hydrated and protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. Today, in “Managing Heat Stress and Embracing Summer’s Bounty”, we will explore how to recognize and respond to heat-related illnesses, adjust your exercise routine for hotter days and make the most of the seasonal produce that summer has to offer. These insights will help you enjoy the warm weather safely and healthily.

Recognize and Respond to Heat-Related Illnesses

As the mercury rises, so does the risk of heat-related illnesses, which can range from mild, heat exhaustion symptoms to severe heatstroke. Being able to quickly recognize the symptoms of these conditions is crucial for timely intervention and preventing serious health consequences.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion often precedes heatstroke and heat illness can develop after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures for several days and have become dehydrated. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating – Unlike heatstroke, sweating is typically profuse as the body tries to cool itself down.
  • Weakness or fatigue – Feeling unusually weak or tired can be a sign that your body is struggling to cope with the heat.
  • Dizziness and fainting – Heat exhaustion can impact your blood flow, leading to dizziness and even fainting spells.
  • Nausea and headaches – Dehydration and overheating can cause headaches and nausea, which are warning signs that your body needs to cool down and rehydrate.


Heatstroke is the most severe form of heat-related illness and is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you observe any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:

  • High body temperature – A core body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher is a key sign of heatstroke.
  • Absence of sweating – In heatstroke, the body’s sweating mechanism fails, and the skin will feel hot and dry to the touch.
  • Red or flushed dry skin – The skin may appear red as body temperatures rise.
  • Rapid pulse – The heart rate may significantly increase as it tries to help the body cool down.
  • Difficulty breathing – Breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Confusion or unconsciousness – Severe heatstroke can disrupt mental functions, leading to confusion, seizures or unconsciousness.

Preventative steps are vital in mitigating the increased risk of heat-related illnesses. These include staying hydrated, seeking shade during the hottest parts of the day and wearing light, loose-fitting clothing. Additionally, keep an eye on those who are at higher risk, such as older adults, young children and individuals with pre-existing health conditions.

Understanding these signs and how to respond can save lives and prevent long-term health problems. Stay informed and prepared to ensure a safe and enjoyable time during hot and humid weather.

Adapt Your Exercise Routine

Adjusting your exercise routine is essential to cope with the summer heat effectively while maintaining your fitness regimen safely:


Opt for early morning or late evening workouts when the temperature and the sun’s intensity is lower. This helps avoid the peak heat hours, reducing the risk of overheating and dehydration.

Indoor Alternatives

If outdoor temperatures become unbearable, switch your activities to indoor environments. Gyms are climate-controlled, making them a safe choice. Indoor swimming is excellent for keeping cool while getting a full-body workout.


Maintaining hydration is critical, especially when you increase your activity levels. Drink plenty of water before you start exercising, keep hydrating during your session and replace the lost fluids afterward. This not only prevents dehydration but also aids in muscle recovery.


Be mindful of the heat’s impact on your body. On extremely hot days, consider reducing the intensity and duration of your workouts. Opt for lighter, less strenuous activities like walking or gentle stretching instead of high-intensity interval training or long-distance running.

By thoughtfully adapting your exercise routine to accommodate the summer heat, you can continue to enjoy the benefits of physical activity without compromising your health. These adjustments not only prevent heat-related illnesses but also make your summer exercise enjoyable and sustainable.

Enjoy Seasonal Produce

Summer is not only a wonderful time for outdoor fun but also an ideal season to enjoy a variety of fresh, nutritious produce that can help you stay hydrated and healthy. Incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet provides numerous health benefits and adds flavor and color to your meals.

Hydration through Foods

Many summer fruits and vegetables – like watermelon, cucumbers, oranges and strawberries – are high in water content, which can help keep you hydrated in the heat. Including these foods in your diet is a tasty way to supplement your daily water intake.

Nutrient-Rich Choices

Summer produce is not only refreshing but also packed with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For example, berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, which support immune function and skin health. Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, offer iron and calcium, which are important for bone health and energy levels.

Light and Digestible Meals

Eating heavy meals can make you feel lethargic, especially during hot days.  Choose light meals that include salads, smoothies and cold soups made with summer vegetables and fruits. These meals are easier to digest, helping you maintain your energy levels without overheating your body.

Cooking Tips

Take advantage of the natural sweetness and flavors of summer produce by incorporating them into your cooking. Grill vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant for a smoky addition to your dishes. Fresh fruits can be used in desserts, salads or frozen into ice pops for a refreshing treat.

Local and Organic Options

Visit local farmers’ markets to find the freshest produce, which often tastes better and may contain more nutrients than fruits and vegetables that have traveled long distances. Choosing organic produce can also reduce your exposure to pesticides and support sustainable farming practices.

By embracing the abundance of seasonal produce available in the summer, you not only enhance the flavor of your meals but also contribute to your overall health and well-being. Enjoy the variety and freshness that this season has to offer!

Rest and Recover

The summer heat can significantly impact your body’s ability to function optimally, making adequate rest and recovery essential. Here are some detailed tips on how to help your body recuperate during the hotter months:

Optimal Sleep

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to help your body repair and rejuvenate. Consider using blackout curtains to keep your bedroom cool and dark and maintain a consistent bedtime routine even on the longest days of summer.

Daytime Rest

If you’re active or spend substantial time outdoors, allow yourself down time to prevent heat exhaustion. Take breaks in a cool, shaded or air-conditioned area to help your body recover from the extreme heat alone. A short nap of 20-30 minutes can also refresh your energy levels without affecting your night-time sleep schedule.

Cool Environments

During peak heat hours, stay indoors if possible. Use fans or air conditioning to create a comfortable environment. If you don’t have access to air conditioning at home, consider visiting public places like libraries or shopping centers that are cool.

Light and Relaxing Activities

Engage in activities that are relaxing and don’t raise your body temperature. This can include reading, stretching, practicing meditation or yoga, or simply enjoying a quiet moment with a cold beverage. These activities can help reduce stress and allow your body to recover from the thermal effects of summer.

Hydration and Nutrition

As previously spelled out, continue to hydrate and choose meals that are light and easy to digest. Cold soups, salads, and fruits can provide necessary nutrients without overburdening your digestive system, which can be particularly sensitive when it’s hot.

Dress Appropriately

Wear loose, light-colored clothing that allows your skin to breathe. Natural fibers like cotton, linen or bamboo are ideal as they promote air circulation, which helps in cooling down your body.

By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you can help your body manage the strains of heat more effectively and maintain your energy and health throughout the summer.

Wrapping Up

As we embrace the joys of summer, it’s essential to take proactive steps to stay healthy and safe in the heat.  Each of the measures included in our blogs helps to safeguard your health, allowing you to fully enjoy every moment of summer.

If you have any concerns about summer health or need professional advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Access HealthCare. Visit our website for more information or call our office at 434.316.7199 to schedule an appointment. Stay cool, stay healthy and enjoy your summer!